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Bankside a Cultural Dynamo

Opened in October 2018, Bankside is a new design-forward hotel located in one of London’s hottest and most culturally dynamic districts on the south bank of the River Thames.

A stone’s throw away from Tate Modern, British Film Institute and Borough Market, the 161-room hotel connects guests to the vibrant local community through its art-filled interiors, neighborhood restaurant and bar, ‘Maker in Residence’ program and immersive programming and partnerships.

Dayna Lee of Los Angeles’ Powerstrip Studio is the designer behind the six-story hotel and has subtly embedded the historical ethos of its surroundings within the aesthetic. A film set art director-turned-hotel designer, she approaches the design as a narrative and has taken a light-hearted and laid-back approach. “Our design for Bankside Hotel has art school style with added polish, an appreciation for mid-century collection and black line drawings,” she said.

The glass building that houses Bankside is part of the One Blackfriars development from architect Ian Simpson. Its contemporary exterior lines belie Lee’s timeless interiors which blend mid-century modern classics with works from interesting up-and-coming makers and artists sourced from around the world.

“With this connection to publishing houses, theatre and world acclaimed modern art, I wanted to create spaces that support makers and thinkers,” said Lee. “I feel strongly that people have a natural sixth sense for their environment beyond the materials to the process of how the special joinery, furnishings and art were made and we have taken a keen interest in products made by local hands. I think people naturally know when an object or a composition is cared for and embodies the thinking process of the craftsmen, artists and manufacturers.”

Commissioned Work

Key works within the hotel include:

  • Laura Carlin—Ceramicist and illustrator from London, will provide two wall murals composed of illustrated tiles that bring to life the cultural narratives of the Southbank.
  • Malgorzata Bany—London-based artist and designer, is creating a series of side tables cast from Jesmonite based on the Pilotis Range—a collection inspired by the architectural language of columns used historically to raise buildings above ground or water.
  • Timorous Beasties—Multi-award-winning studio from Glasgow have been commissioned to create a textured backdrop that sits behind a leather and metal rocking horse.
  • Custom pieces of art hang above every bed. In one case the in-house creative team took iconic architectural images of the Great Arthur Estate in EC1 and manipulated and enhanced them into original works.
  • George Smith sofas—Inspired by one of the Regency’s most celebrated furniture designers George Smith, all of the furniture is handmade to order and built from the finest natural raw materials in workshops in the North of England.
  • Galvin Brother tables—a family-owned business based in East Yorkshire will be creating handcrafted wooden tables to feature within the hotel.

The configurations and custom furniture pieces are designed to make the most of the floor-to-ceiling windows and create light-filled spaces that are cosy and restful. On each guest floor a carefully stocked vending machine will sell a small collection of products from the United Kingdom, United States and beyond. Water bars with sparkling and still water taps will also be found on each floor.

Bankside has been designed to deliver an airy-residential feel where lines are blurred between work and play, with social spaces providing inspirational gallery-style environments. The first-floor library, a fun space for reading, co-working or socializing, spills out into an outdoor deck for cocktails.

Lee explains, “We wanted to design a luxury boutique hotel for creative working professionals with calm rooms and bespoke public spaces that reflect the vibrant, history-steeped community. For example, a tall white chimney, resembling what might have originated as a vertical block of clay has been shaved by a sculptor’s knife creating facets. This stands in the lobby housing a fireplace. It faces a natural walnut table that is be custom-made by U.K. wood workers with hand tools and is flanked by low sofas of our own design made by an extremely respected U.K. sofa maker.”